Monday, January 22, 2007

aspen world cup wrap-up

I'm on an Alaska Airlines flight from Denver to Seattle; from there I'll transfer to Spokane, where we'll all pile into rented minivans and drive four hours or so up to the faux-Austrian village of Kimberley, British Columbia. We'll get to sleep in tomorrow and perhaps freeski a bit in the afternoon, and then we have three more days of World Cup racing — a super G on Wednesday, a giant slalom Thursday, and a slalom Friday. Immediately after the slalom, five of the team's six monoskiers will hightail it back to Spokane, fly back to Denver, and drive up to Aspen (which we just left last night) for the X Games' Monoskier X event on Saturday afternoon. It seems a little illogical to go to so much effort to compete in a crazy, somewhat dangerous race, but what the hell. You only live once.

Sorry I've neglected to post the results of the later Aspen World Cups... I'll give you the rundown of the last four days:
Tuesday, GS #1: I put together two solid — but not stellar — runs, finishing as the top American (seventh place) in a race that features a slew of DNFs (did not finish) thanks to a difficult hill and variable snow conditions. Germany's Martin Braxenthaler wins the men's sitting category handily, repeating his feat from both super G's.

Wednesday, GS #2: The rest of the field starts to figure out the hill — but not the Americans. I fail to finish the first run after misjudging a big knoll in the middle of the course. In the afternoon I join a posse of fellow DNFs (Gerald, Ricci, CDY, and two Italians) to explore the rest of Aspen Mountain. It is Gay & Lesbian Ski Week in Aspen, and we manage to catch some of an event called "The Drag Race," which features costumed (though not necessarily all cross-dressing) participants showing off their style on skis and snowboards before a panel of judges. We see four men dressed as poodles, a female "priest" performing a same-sex mock matrimony, and a close-to-seven-foot snowboarding queen who we hear won the event last year. Then I ride the gondola to the top of the mountain with a screenwriter who wrote Air Force One and who uses his cell phone in the gondola to reschedule his appointment with his personal trainer. At the top, we take pictures of each other and, following the Italians' sensible lead, order beers and drink them on the mountaintop lodge's sun-drenched terrace.

Meanwhile, Braxi wins again, and Nick has the Americans' best (and only) male monoskier finish in seventh place.

Thursday, slalom #1: This is the event where it seems like I could be starting to become a contender, but I make a major mistake in each of the two runs. Still, it's good enough for another seventh-place finish — just behind Gerald, who has a stellar second run. Braxi wins his fifth straight race, although Austria's Jürgen Egle is close behind.

Friday, slalom #2: I go down in the first run but finish the course. Starting the second run in third-to-last place, I have my best run of the week. Only four skiers are faster than me that run, but I was so far behind in the first run that it doesn't matter — I still finish at the back of the pack. Still, my final race run of the Aspen series is encouraging, giving me a morale boost going into the Canadian races, not to mention valuable World Cup points. I now stand in fourteenth place in the season-long overall standings (PDF), the top American in my category so far.

Better yet, Jürgen wins the race, finally knocking Braxi to the second step of the podium.

For full race results, click here. For the full text of the USSA press releases, head over here.

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